Bipolar Disorder v. Stimulant Intoxication

Bipolar Disorder v. Stimulant Intoxication

Drug abuse is not a new phenomenon in the society; with the prevalent reasoning being that consumption of any stimulant is illegal. However, stimulant drugs may be either legal or illegal. Certain stimulants have been used in managing conditions such as the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder-ADHD as they block reuptake while also enabling dopamine to be released in critical brain areas (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 2018). Despite their effectiveness in treating this condition, stimulants have a potential of inducing manic-like symptoms, especially when used for a long duration. According to Ross (2006), when taken in high doses, stimulants can bring symptoms that resemble those exhibited by people suffering from bipolar disease.

As such, several similarities exist between bipolar disease and stimulant intoxication. For example, persons with bipolar disorder may exhibit symptoms such as extra stamina, improved sociability, empowerment feelings, and intense concentration (Lesser, 2021). These symptoms are similar to those exhibited by people who are intoxicated with stimulants. Even so, there are key differences between the two. For instance, the symptoms arising from stimulant intoxication generally last fewer days compared to those caused by bipolar. Secondly, bipolar may lead to longer-lasting and more severe depression compared to stimulants (Lesser, 2021).

Owing to the similarities outlined above, there is need to conduct comprehensive assessment of persons of people suspected to have bipolar disorder. More specifically, comprehensive assessment is needed before any treatment is given to ensure that correct diagnosis is made. As reported by Quello, Brady and Sonne (2005), the similarities between stimulant intoxication and bipolar disorder may cause clinicians to arrive at divergent conclusions, leading to misdiagnosis. To avoid such, it is highly recommended that clinicians conduct thorough screening of patients with the aim of identifying patients who require follow-up and closer assessment. Useful instruments for testing and assessing patients include the Symptom Checklist, the Addiction Severity Index, and the Beck Depression Inventory (Quello et al., 2005).


American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. (2018). Community Health Paramedicine. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Lesser, B. (2021). Stimulants use and addiction.

Quello, S. B., Brady, K. T., & Sonne, S. C. (2005). Mood disorders and substance use disorder: a complex comorbidity. Science & Practice Perspectives3(1), 13-21.

Ross, R. G. (2006). Psychotic and manic-like symptoms during stimulant treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry163(7), 1149-1152.

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